The Issue of Animal Welfare and Health in Developing Countries

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The harsh realities of the financial, educational, and scientific/medical gaps between developed and developing countries are often overlooked when new scientific breakthroughs emerge. As wealthier countries utilize their resources to ensure that these breakthroughs are put to use to make improvements in medical fields and to provide solutions to imminent health issues, developing countries lack the resources and information to make such changes.

It can be argued that these developing countries in Africa and Asia are the countries most in need of medical improvements, such animal vaccines and treatment facilities, because it is in these areas that there are a significant number of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases that affect animals and humans, including Ebola and West Nile Virus (PLOS, 2014/ NCBI, 2011). The essence of science is collaboration. Any scientist whose experiment provides results that can be used for the betterment of the world, including solutions to global health issues, has the obligation to share those results. Similarly, any country whose resources can be used to address global needs, has the obligation to distribute those resources accordingly.


Poor animal health, caused by the lack of concern for animal welfare and inadequate animal health services and policies, can negatively affect human and environmental health; therefore, countries with superfluous financial, medical, and informational resources must help to distribute those resources in developing countries in order to address and improve global health issues that stem from zoonotic EIDs that are most prevalent in developing countries with poor animal health services.

In recent years, An International One Health initiative has pushed developed countries, whose financial and medical resources can be used to address animal health issues in developing countries, to do just that; however, the problem to nowhere near being completely solved, which can be seen in countries, like Ethiopia, where animal welfare policies have done little to improve the standard of animal health and welfare there (Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology, 2016). Guidelines on the the distribution of resources and implementation of proper animal health services, like those discussed and established at the International Congress on Pathogens at the Human-Animal Interface (ICOPHAI), have been put into place, and the world has begun to act, but the danger of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in developing countries is growing faster than the country can contain any one outbreak (PLOS, 2014). Poor animal health and welfare in developing countries, such as those in Africa and Asia, can be attributed to a lack of concern, awareness, and information, as well as limited financial and medical resources(NCBI, 2011/2012).

Moreover, because livestock are a significant part of agriculture in developing countries, for both commercial and subsistence purposes in some cases, EIDs and zoonoses, like West Nile Virus, have an intensified effect on those developing areas where animal health resources and services are lacking. Because of this, it is imperative that the leading countries of the world, in medical fields, financial resources, and global influence, unite to address and contain this epidemic.

Due to limited resources and lack of information and awareness in developing countries, diagnosing, preventing, and treating zoonotic EIDs is a major issue; an issue discussed in depth at ICOPHAI. Along with discerning what areas are in need of assistance, the congress “identified four key capacity-building needs” including the “development of adequate science-based risk management policies, skilled-personnel capacity building, accredited veterinary and public health diagnostic laboratories with a shared database, and improved use of existing natural resources and implementation.” (PLOS, 2014).

This entire congress was a charge to the developed world to pool resources in order to support and sustain global One Health implementation in areas where it is desperately needed and can help improve animal, human, and environmental health and health services. ICOPHAI is just one example if developed countries coming together in order to support global One Health. Another example can be found in OIE’s Fourth Strategic Plan, established in 2005. The adoption of this plan focused OIE member countries on improving animal health worldwide, which they emphasize as a priority (OIE, 2007).

Obviously, the threat of zoonotic EIDs in developing countries has been recognized and addressed, but the issue remains prevalent, and more can be done. In order to diagnose, prevent, contain,and treat zoonotic EIDs is rural, low-resource settings, these areas must be properly alerted and informed about health issues, policy makers must refocus efforts on addressing these potential health issues for humans by establishing proper animal health and welfare policies and services, and developed countries must utilize their resources to help construct and develop adequate animal health services, like treatment facilities and vaccine distribution, which will benefit human and environmental help, regionally and globally.

Addressing the Global Issue

One of the most significant reasons for the prominence of zoonotic diseases in developing countries, which are diseases transmitted from animals to humans, is the reliance on subsistence agriculture in some areas, and a transition to commercial agriculture in other areas of the country (NCBI, 2011). Countries like Ethiopia and Lebanon are efficient models when diagnosing the effects of infectious disease epidemics on animals and humans in developing countries; while some areas of those countries are growing international markets and developing world hotspots, most other areas are still dependent on subsistence agriculture, with their own livestock as their central food source. With these two areas, hot-spots and cold-spots, in such close proximity, it is a recipe for disaster.

First of all, these ‘cold spots’ in developing countries are the most vulnerable to the multiple endemic and zoonotic diseases because of the their lack of financial and informational resources and proper animal health services; therefore, these areas are unequip to detect, contain, prevent, or treat an outbreak of West Nile Virus in their livestock, for example. Moreover, because livestock is their central food source, the human population is more susceptible to contract this zoonotic disease. Also, because these countries are also experiencing a transition to commercial agriculture in some areas, the disease is more liable to spread and become a regional, national, or even global epidemic. Obviously, there is an understandable reason for leading countries’ concern when it comes to discussing the possibility of infectious disease outbreaks in developing countries, because the results may affect the world, in aspects of food sources and general health.

Concern for the welfare of the human population translates to a concern for animal health; this concern drives developed countries to access their resources in order to invest in adequate animal health services, and develop improved treatment facilities, including vaccines (PLOS, 2014). However, strained financial resources in developing countries, which can be attributed to internal conflict or an economic depression, limit the ability, as well as the concern, to invest in and develop proper animal health services (FAO, 2008).

Developed countries also have a heightened public awareness of the threat of zoonotic diseases, which contributes to the reason for the development and widespread distribution of animal vaccines. However, developing countries lack the educational and infrastructural resources to inform the public about the danger and prevalence of zoonotic diseases; yet another reason explaining the limited motivation to invest in animal health programs and services (NCBI, 2011). Although the Global One Health Program is focused on addressing all of these issues and more, the fact remains that the developing countries, who are being affected by the animal health standards and policies instituted by programs such as this, have a limited voice in deciding what those standards and policies should be. Without a global platform to discuss their health issues and needs, how can can there be expectations for developing countries to address or show concern for those problems.

Clearly, the displacement between resources in developed and developing countries is significant, and along with multiple socioeconomic factors, it contributes to poor animal health standards in developing countries.Poor animal health will inevitably negatively affect human and environmental health in this developing areas at high risk for zoonotic infectious disease outbreaks. Moreover, with little to no proper treatment services to address such an outbreak, like accessible vaccine, medical facilities, or affordable and qualified personnel, the outbreak could easily become and regional, national, or continental epidemic, as seen through Zika and Ebola viruses. All these resource based and socioeconomic reasons for inadequate animal health standards in developing countries can and should be addressed by leading countries. They have the incentive and the opportunity, now there is only how, where, and when to begin.


To address global health issues, the world must begin with a discussion, and one which includes world leaders and developing countries equally, to determine needs and capacity, as witnessed through ICOPHA (PLOS, 2014). From that discussion, comes action; this means properly utilizing natural and financial resources to establish treatment facilities for distributing vaccines and quarantines, as well as making the public and policy makers aware of the significance and prevalence of zoonotic EIDs and how to prevent an outbreak.

While it may sound simple, this issue is complex and dynamic, which is why it is still such a major one despite efforts to solve it. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by the whole world for the betterment of the whole world. The status of animal health and welfare in developing countries is not a problem that can be solved by each of those countries individually, which is evident from their lack of awareness and limited resources, so in order to maintain a healthy human population and a health environment, all the countries of the world must focus in improving animal health and health services where they are the most limited and the most vulnerable. Zoonotic EIDs are a global threat that the world must unite to face; disease is a universal enemy of mankind.

It reared its ugly head at United States soldiers in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and again during the building of the Panama Canal. At those time, forces were joined to provides solutions and develop services to treat and prevent the disease, known as Malaria. Now today, the world faces similar enemies, but because of accelerated globalization and international travel and trade, it is at a much larger scale. Wealthy countries, warring countries, and developing nations must put their differences aside in order to contain and defeat the universal enemy, disease, which will and is attacking animals and humans alike in countries that are not equipped to face disease alone.

This entire concept presents the sad truth that death and disease is a centripetal force for humanity, driving us together in times of health crises. Yet, the fact remains, the essence of science is collaboration. While scientist must share their breakthroughs, countries must pool their resources in a massive collaborative attack against their common enemies; Ebola, West Nile Virus, Avian Influenza, among the many others bombarding our allies each and every day.

Cite this paper

The Issue of Animal Welfare and Health in Developing Countries. (2021, Aug 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-issue-of-animal-welfare-and-health-in-developing-countries/

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